One might say we are a Ford family. We've had four Fords in my lifetime: a 1993 Escort LX Wagon, a 1999 Taurus SE Sedan, a 2001 Taurus SES, and now a 2005 Taurus SE. We've never had a reason to change makes, so we don't fix what isn't broken.
In December 2008, the 2001 Taurus (which has been the best to date) blew the number four piston valve due to a carbon buildup (violent shaking upon startup and while idle). The family was looking for a cheap car that month, and the cheapest car available was a 2001 Toyota Camry LE. That car was unreliable, but it withheld through two crashes (one being a deer at 60 miles per hour head-on). It was finally totaled in July 2010 in a 15-mile-per-hour impact. With the insurance money, the family had some more choice this time. We went to the Ford lot (where the family purchased the Camry) and saw our Taurus. We purchased it on August 2, 2010.
Having previously owned two Ford Tauruses, we knew what we were in for. This particular Taurus is an SE model, but it is basically an SEL, except for the leather seats and automatic climate control. Our Taurus has nearly every option; it has the moonroof, spoiler, CD-changer in the trunk, cassette in the dash, front bucket seats (not the bench), and the split-folding rear bench.
If I've already lost your interest, go to the 2001 Camry reviews on this site and read the one about "My Patience's Ninth Life."
The Taurus caters to everyone in the family; leg, head, and hip room abound for all passengers. I am 5' 7", and I like to sit with the power seat at the highest level, so when I wear a ball cap, it touches the roof. Keep in mind that our model has the moonroof, so this wouldn't be a problem otherwise. My father really likes the moonroof; I don't care one way or the other. When we first got the car, it was exciting being as we had never had a car with one before, but it eats up headroom and is only good on summer nights.
The seats are plush. One thing Ford left out of the interior are rear-seat headrests. Had there been a redesign of the rear deck, headrests would have been easy to put in. The front seats lack good bolstering; I like to sit with the seat at the highest position with the seatback as upright as can be. With that arrangement, I like to sit with my head on the headrest. But, after only a few minutes, I am sliding down in the seat.
The interior is very quiet, shielding engine and wind noise, but not tire noise.
Performance is good, but not great. The Taurus accelerates beautifully with the Flex-Fuel 3.0 Engine, but our Camry took three minutes (yes, three minutes) to go from 0-60. The Taurus takes maybe 10 seconds.
I have mixed opinions about the gas mileage; in the city it guzzles gas, achieving a best of 21 MPG. On the highway, at 57 MPH and a tailwind, I have gotten 33.9 MPG. This is not based on the trip computer; I actually calculated the miles driven and the gallons of gas I have used. The trip computer said 28.8 MPG that particular day, so it was off by quite a bit. In the city, I have calculated as low as 19. Typical 85/15 highway/city driving yields between 22-26 MPG. It rains a lot in PA, so this figure, in my mind, varies mostly on whether or not I use the cruise control. Overall, it seems that the 24V DOHC engine in my 2001 Taurus SES achieved better fuel efficiency while having better performance.
Braking is better than the Camry by a long shot, if you punch the brake pedal. Otherwise, the car will simply roll through a stop sign if you let it.
The Taurus handles beautifully compared to my 2001 Camry. It has a MUCH less turning radius, and it won't fishtail like the Camry often did in wet weather.
The ride of the Taurus is also smooth. In the Camry, you could feel every road imperfection. Not in the Taurus.
One thing worth noting is the fact that the headlights are AWFUL. Ford needs to aim the lights better, and you can't tell a difference between the low- and high-beams. The Camry had AWESOME headlights. The headlights are probably my biggest complaint about the car.
The Taurus has no hindering blind spots. It is very easy to see in all directions when parallel parking this car. When I first drove the Taurus, I hated the spoiler because looking out the rear window through the rearview mirror was, in my words on that drive, "like looking through a gunslit." With time and experience, I have gotten used to backing the car up. Whoever decided to put that third window behind the rear door is a GENIUS! I had a tough time learning to parallel park on my Camry due to the HUGE C-pillar, but, even though the Taurus is bigger, it was EASIER to park because it didn't have any blind spots. I progressed more in the art of parallel parking in a week on the Taurus than two months on the Camry.
The gauges are very easy to read. You can easily make out all the lights, and each icon is easy to read. My model has the trip computer, and it is nice, although I would move the buttons for it. They are behind the steering wheel, and you cannot easily locate what button is what by feel alone. The only other control I would move is the window lock. This isn't because I can't find it, but, each time I get into and out of the car, I end up locking the windows! Otherwise, all controls in the Taurus are clearly marked, and are properly located.
The center control panel is easily read and very functional. After 18 months in the Camry, I still didn't know where anything was. After one week in the Taurus, I know where everything is. The buttons all feel solid.
The Taurus looks sharp. It is light green (not the mint green, I think it is called Titanium Green Metallic) with the Charcoal Cloth Interior. It has a moonroof and a spoiler. The lines of the Taurus are smooth; there is not a corner on this car like there was on my Camry. I don't know what Ford was thinking with the grille; they should have stayed with the 2000-2003 grille. The taillights look better, but I think in the future Ford should use a separate taillight and turn signal. It was like Ford was going for more luxurious in the back, more sporty up front.
In the time we've owned the Taurus, I know it will hold up to be a reliable family car. Heck, we've had three of them. It feels more solid than our Camry, it performs better, and it is more reliable. I passed my driver's license exam in this car, and I drove this car on my first date. I see us having this car for a very long time. I will update regularly.